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SSH 205 Library Instruction

Timeline of Information Creation (Infographic)

What are scholarly and popular sources

Learning Objective:

  • Identify between a scholarly source and a popular source
  • Understand the timeline of information production

The Terms: 

"Scholarly" and "popular" are terms used to describe a source's content, purpose, audience and more.

MacLeans Magazine cover with Rob Ford - a popular sourcePopular Sources
  • Include magazines, newspaper articles, and popular books
  • Rarely cite other sources 
  • Are useful for getting ideas for a topic or for background and anecdotal information
  • Are written for a general audience, informal in tone and scope
  • May be short: magazine and newspaper articles are often 200-500 words

Watch out! Magazines that cover academic topics for general audiences are considered "popular" i.e., National Geographic, Scientific American, Psychology Today.

Scholarly Sources
  • Are written by experts: the majority have PhDs
  • Have author(s) associated with universities, research institutions or hospitals
  • Contain original research
  • Cite other sources extensively throughout and contain works cited section
  • Have an audience of other experts and university students studying in the same field
  • Contain academic language and content
  • Are often peer-reviewed

“Peer-Reviewed” Articles 

Peer-reviewed articles are scholarly sources that have undergone a review process before being published. Experts in a particular field of study submit their original research in the form of an article to a journal publisher. Before it can be published, it will be evaluated and critiqued by researchers and experts in the same field; hence, reviewed by their peers.



How to Evaluate your Sources

Evaluating your Sources with the CRAAP Test


C = Currency: 

When was the information published? Is it up to date?

R = Relevance

Is the information what you're really looking for? Who is the material written for: academics, professionals, students, or the general public?

A = Authority:

 Who published, wrote, or edited the information? Is the author an expert on the topic?

A= Accuracy: 

Is the information reliable and accurate? Do other sources verify this information?

P = Purpose: 

What is the purpose of the information? Is it biased to one point of view?


For more info Try our Handout - the PARCA Test (CRAAP) (PDF)  (Accessible Version)

*Emoji courtesy of

Using Popular and Scholarly Sources in your Essay

Popular vs Scholarly Quiz